"As to your question, ‘How do I choose my professors wisely?’
You must read what they write, of course. You wouldn’t trust the tutelage of a Professor of Neurosurgery who had never practised surgery, or a piano teacher who did not know how to play the piano or a driving instructor who had never driven a car. Why would you care to be taught Literature by people who have never produced any? (fiction or nonfiction)
You will hear the argument that they are there to teach you how to read a novel or a poem and to deconstruct it, and that they are able to do that without ever having written anything themselves. Well, if you want to buy that, you are free to do so.
And there are times and places when and where it is not entirely untrue. Some are better readers than writers and can convey that ability to students. It was more likely to be true in the past, when one’s professors could be relied upon to hold the entire history of English Literature in their heads.
But it is rare, very rare, to be able to truly understand something that one has never done. Just remember that any idiot can take a hatchet to the Pieta or a book. Few who do so can create one.
Also, you might want to find out if your professors can relate their own area of expertise to another ― another era or form of Literature ― another voice in the poetic lineage ― another discipline entirely. If they cannot, they are not educated and you must not trust them with the solemn task of educating you. They may be brilliant little myopics, but they are myopics all the same. I trust that is not your aim."
- Harrison Solow, Felicity & Barbara Pym
Causes Harrison Solow Supports
Lupus Foundation of America
Museum of Tolerance